The Barking Mouse (A Cuban folktale)

I’ve only told this story once, but I’m still learning it. The last time I told it, I skipped the Spanish part, since I didn’t want to tell it and bungle the pronunciation. I told it to younger kids (like around 2 years old) and I’m not sure if they understood it, but I think older kids (like around 5-8) would enjoy listening to it.


The Barking Mouse

Una vez habia una familia de ratones..

(Once upon a time there was a family of mice.)

There was Mama Raton. Who’s that? Momma Mouse.

There was Papa Raton. Who’s that? Papa Mouse.

There was Hermana Raton. Who’s that? Sister Mouse.

And there was Hermano Raton- Brother Mouse.

They all went on a picnic on a beautiful fall day. When they were finished eating, Hermana and Hermano said, “Mana, Papa, vamos a jugar!” (We’re going to play!)

Mama said, “Esta bien, pero cuidense, por que en la cerca hay un gato” (That’s fine, but be careful, because near the fence lives El Gato (the cat).)

Hermana and Hermano said, “OK”- which is Spanish for “OK”- and they stayed away from the fence for some time. But Hermana and Hermano had never seen a cat in person before- or in cat, or however you say that. They had read about cats, and seen cats on television, and so their curiosity got the better of them. You know what they say, Curiosity killed the….Oh, that’s a different thing, but you know what I mean.

So where do you think they went? Right up to the fence

They peeked through the slats in the fence, and sure enough, there was the cat- big green eyes, long whiskers, a tail that flopped in the grass. The brother was amazed. He said, “Hermana, es un gato?”

And the sister said, “Si, es un gato!”

The brother said, “Hola, gato!”

The sister said, “Hola, gato!”

The cat didn’t move a whisker.

The brother got silly. He said, “Hola, gato flaco!” (Hello, skinny cat!) He stuck out his tongue at the cat.

The sister thought that was funny so she joined in. “Hola, gato glaco–pphhhlllppphhh!” Oh, they were having a great time making fun of that cat!

The cat’s eyes got smaller. Her tail stopped moving. She stretched her claws into the earth and sprung for the fence, pushing her paws through the slats, swinging at and just barely missing the mice. The mice were scared, but when they saw that the cat couldn’t reach them they got bold and made fun of her even more.

The cat sat back on her haunches, jumped as high as she could, and fell- splat- right into the top of the fence. She fell down on her side of the fence, pawing at her nose. The mice thought that was the funniest thing in the world. The cat tried again- Meow!- and smashed into the fence.

The mice had tears coming out of their eyes now, they were laughing so hard. The cat walked back slowly, stretched up and stretched down, and leapt again, only this time she led with her claws. She dug her claws into the wood of that fence and clawed her way up. She got to the toop, looked down, and snickered- Hee, hee, hee!- at the mice.

“Adios gato!” yelled the mice, turning away and running for their lives. The cat jumped down. She was gaining on them with every single stride when, with a burst of speed, the mice jumped through some little bushes back to their family.

Breathlessly they said, “Mama, Papa, vamanos, por que el gato va a comernos!” (We’d better go, that cat is going to eat us!)

Papa looked around, but he didn’t see that cat. Papa got tough. He said, “Gato, yo no tengo miedo del gato”  (I’m not scared of the cat.) “Si el gato viene (if the cat comes), yo voy a decir decir que yo soy Papa Raton, y yo voy a darle Pow Pow!

And just then, the cat jumped through the bushes. Papa froze. “Mama!” he cried, jumping behind her. Hermano and Hermana jumped behind her too. The only thing that stood between her and her familia, was Mama.

Mama didn’t know what to do! But with the courage a mother feels when her family is threatened, she stood up as tall as she could on her tiny back paws, looked into the great green eyes of the cat, took a deep breath, and said, “Roof roof rooof rooow rooo rooff!!!”

That cat stopped, looked all around, turned around, jumped over that fence, and was gone.

Mama couldn’t believe it had worked. When she got her family home nice and safe, she said, “You see, kids, it pays to speak another language!”


If I were to tell this story again, I would either change the title (because it gives away the story quite a bit), or announce the title at the very end.

Screenshot (25)

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